Major Religious Freedom Conference to Convene in Bermuda

Silver Spring, MD, USA . [IRLA News] A major religious freedom conference will convene in Bermuda March 14-16, reports John Graz, secretary general of the International Religious Liberty Association.

"This significant conference will bring together diplomats, experts, and religious leaders to look at the whole subject of religious freedom and tolerance in the 21st century," says Graz. "As we see religious freedom under threat in different areas around the world, this is certainly a hot issue. We hope to be able to make a constructive contribution to the fundamental human right of religious liberty and freedom of conscience through this event and through the use of materials developed in Bermuda."

The conference, entitled "Religious Freedom: An Answer to Discrimination and Intolerance," will be opened by the Premier of Bermuda, the Hon. Jennifer Smith, and many international religious freedom experts from governments, universities and world organizations will address its theme.

Among those attending are Ambassador Joseph Verner Reed, Under-Secretary, United Nations; Professor Rosa Guerreiro, UNESCO Intercultural Dialogue Department; Dr. Rosa Maria Martinez de Codes, Department of Religious Affairs, Spain; Dr. Tad Stahnke, US Commission on International Religious Freedom; Dr. Arthur A Fletcher, former Chair, US Commission on Civil Rights; Dr. Anatoly Krasikov, Russian Academy of Sciences; and Prof. Cole Durham, J. Reuben Clark Law School, USA.

"We will be working to address the challenge of discrimination and intolerance, especially as it relates to the principles of religious freedom," says Graz. "Through dialogue and the willingness to understand each other we can reduce discrimination and aid tolerance, while maintaining our right to differ."

Chartered in 1893, the IRLA has advocated for religious freedom for 108 years. Various religious traditions are represented on the Board of Directors, while the presidency rotates annually among a panel of vice presidents. The current president is Dr. Denton Lotz, general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance. The IRLA has no paid staff and officers and directors serve voluntarily. Funding for IRLA operations comes from organizations supportive of the association's purpose. IRLA was originally organized by leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, however, its purpose is universal and non-sectarian and seeks to address religious freedom concerns from all faith communities.

The event will take place at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel. More information on the upcoming conference can be found at www.irla.org or by calling IRLA information director Jonathan Gallagher at 301-680-6683.